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Tags: French Jews | exodus | Israel | Paris attack | Muslims

Paris Attack Stirs Debate on Exodus of French Jews to Israel

By    |   Friday, 16 January 2015 10:30 AM

The terror attack in Paris is reverberating throughout the French Jewish community, triggering what is expected to be the beginning of an exodus this year to Israel among those who feel their safety and security has reached a tipping point, The New York Times reported.

But talk of a mass exodus is generating debate about whether Jews should leave France or whether it would be preferable to press for changes in French society to better protect and accommodate them as the Muslim population grows, The Washington Post reported.

"I think what we are seeing now is the old Zionism, the idea that the only place to be is Israel," Smadar Bar-Akiva, executive director of JCC Global, an umbrella group of more than 1,000 Jewish community centers worldwide, told the Post.

"Aliyah is wonderful. We would love to have more Jews in Israel," he added, referring to the Hebrew word for immigration. "But I'd also like to have strong Jews all around the world.

"I think that it is self-defeating for us to tell them to pack their bags and leave France."

For the first time, French Jews constituted the largest percentage of immigrants to Israel in 2014 from any country in the world, according to the Times. The UK's Daily Telegraph reported that as many as 15,000 Jews are expected to leave France in the coming year, more than double the number from 2014.

The entry of French Jews to Israel is "a unique historical phenomenon" that poses new challenges and opportunities for Israel, Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told the Post.

"We are moving from an aliyah of rescue to an aliyah of free choice," he said, contrasting it to earlier movements in the 20th century when Jews were fleeing war and persecution, also referred to as "crisis aliyah."

Some say that a departure from Europe is not warranted by the level of perceived threat.

"I don't think the European situation is such that it requires a massive exodus to Israel," Elie Barnavi, a history professor at Tel Aviv University and former Israeli ambassador to France, told the Post.

"Not only is the government not anti-Semitic, the French public, and the press are not anti-Semitic either. It is not comparable to the 1930s."

In the immediate aftermath of the French terror attack that killed four Jews in a kosher market last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said French Jews would be welcomed to Israel "with open arms."

"To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home," he said in a televised statement, referring to the Jewish practice of facing Jerusalem during prayer.

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Newsfront
The terror attack in Paris is reverberating throughout the French Jewish community, triggering what is expected to be the beginning of an exodus this year to Israel among those who feel their safety and security has reached a tipping point, The New York Times reported.
French Jews, exodus, Israel, Paris attack, Muslims
465
2015-30-16
Friday, 16 January 2015 10:30 AM
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